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05/18/2006: "master of my own domain"

with all the hours at my wife's shop + taking care of my wife + being fully responsible for our five (5!) dogs, i have been going a little stir crazy lately. no live poker, no time off make Brently something-something. go crazy? don't mind if i do.

jump for details.


so yesterday afternoon i started thinking that with Poker Stars having this whole 5 Billionth Hand thingy running, maybe i should play a little over there. who knows, i could get lucky. last time i played ring games at PS i got my arse handed to me in a sling - all my fault for hyper-aggressiveness - but still, not a pleasant memory. plus, i really am addicted to Full Tilt's GUI. the visual hand history is, in fact, the nuts.

so anyway, i deposited about $500 and decided to play some 9H NLHE. what limit? well, i figured $3/$6 would be fine since that is what i play pretty regularly on FTP. so i found a table and sat in. and waited, and waited, and then waited some more. the players were slow as molasses. once i got the VP$IP for the table i could see there were at least two pretty active players, so i wasn't leaving. but man, i was bored. did i mention that i had polished off two beers and a full bottle of Syrah? oh yeah, i did. umm, i have issues. no, i am not an alcoholic (is the first sign - denial?)

ok, so i am feeling no pain and while i have tried to promise myself that i wouldn't play drunk, here i was, sheet and a half to the wind sitting in front of my PC. the wifey was out on pain meds so i had the night to myself. being tipsy just aggravated my boredom with PS. so what do i do? open up FTP!

once on FTP i see a semi-juicy $5/$10 full ring game going. last time i played $5/$10 was with Paul Wolfe and Howard Lederer's wife and i dropped a full buy-in in about 3 hours of play. not a good result. now here i am juiced up and so what do i do? i buy in of course. and since i hate playing one limit on one table and another limit on another, i go ahead and buy into a $5/$10NLHE9H table on PS. i have never played $5/$10 on PS. nice hand, well played, sir. dumb Syrah. anyway, after an hour or so i am down - i forget how much, but nothing too significant.

one of the things i have been trying to figure out is how aggressive is "tight/aggressive". for instance, if i am in EP and open with 4xBB raise with AQ and i get pot raised, what do i do? depending on the player, i more often than not either smooth call or fold. yeap, call or fold. in my gut that is a tight/weak play. wouldn't a re-raise define my opponents hand better? sure, i could end up with being put all-in, but wouldn't that bet tell me that i am facing AK, AA, KK, maybe even QQ? all hands i certainly don't want to be in a war with, not with measly AQ. my reasoning behind the smooth call is thusly: usually i don't feel like i have enough money on the table to re-raise with! if i have $500 behind and open for $25, i now have $475 left. if there are two MP callers, the pot is $84 when it gets to the raiser. when the LP raises, they generally go for the "pot" button or 3x my open bet. either way, now the pot is roughly $150 and action on me. with $475 left, i have to put about $100 to call, leaving me with $375. if i raise, i need to put about $150-$200 in. at that point, i am pretty much pot committed. so i have been weak/tight smooth calling to avoid that. i sure wish the online sites would allow up 200xBB buy-ins. i don't feel i have these issues when i play live $6/$6 and have $1K to $1500 in front.

anyway, back to the matter at hand, with all that Syrah in my system, i decide that i am going to play "boom or bust" poker. i dial up the aggression and i do both, boom and bust. after a couple of hours, i am sleepy and weary, so i call it a night, not even taking the time to see how i faired.

this AM i come to the shop and find a spare moment to check out my profit/loss from last night. and? +$48.90. pretty pathetic, Ty.

moral? i gotta stop playing while drinking....

Replies: 3 Comments

Out of position with AQ, how often are you actually making this smooth call? If you have no reads and no stats on villain, is it a fold nearly every time?

If an ace or a queen hits on the flop, and it's not an overly coordinated flop and not all one suit, are you betting out and folding to a raise?

AQ always gives me a tough time to I revert to playing it weak/tight. I also play lower limits than you.


Tom said @ 05/22/2006 02:28 PM CST

howdy Tom - thanks for the reply.

AQ out of position is certainly tough to deal with; i would put it in the same class as 8s or 9s: open-raising can hide the weakness of the hand, but if you get callers or a re-raise, then what?

i have been noticing (and checking PT to make sure it is not my memory) that in online $3/$6 & $5/$10 NLHE9H ring games a lot of players will smooth call the EP's open raise. i tend to try and open-raise a set amount based on position and not my hand strength, i.e. 4-5xBB from EP, 3-4xBB in MP, 3xBB in LP and then when stealing in the cutoff 5-6xBB (and even when not stealing, hoping someone is sick of my antics.) anyway, what generally happens is that with two MP smooth callers, the button, SB, or BB likes to pop it up. my guess has been that they could have a hand, but they also coule be attempting to take it down there or limit the post-flop player pool with hands that are weak like my AQ, i.e. 10 10, JJ or QQ. actually a smart play if not overused.

so now i am in EP, we have a decent pot and i am facing calling a raise with two left to act behind me. you are right to wonder about what my opponents have told me in their play to this point. are their VP$IP above 25%? is their pre-flop aggression over 7? are they tilting b/c in the last 100 hands they are down over a buy-in? that and more all matters, and i try to weigh that, but i often feel tentative in this position. online reads are so ugly and subjective - i have a hard time trusting them. since my huge downswing in Jan (30% of my bankroll saynora!), i have been trying to remember, sometimes players have hands! in the past, not "believing" has been costly, esp when i interpret a raise as maybe a steal and instead i run into KK, AA. not fun.

so, if i nut up and call (or even mega-nut up and raise) and we get a flop, i am of course concerned about coordination: suits? small cards? and ace or a queen? if i have reraised and we are now heads up (the best possible result in my book) then i am looking for some post-flop help. maybe my AQ is suited and i have a flush draw - better than could be hoped for - or maybe i flop two pair. if the gods are smiling on me, maybe i get top pair and the flush draw (could i ask for a draw to broadway to? too much?) but if i miss the flop (which is more than often the case, mathematically), then i am forced to take action, and i think sometimes that is a good thing, in regards to my position.

being in EP means i am going to be first to act. since i opened, and then smooth called (or re-raised) even if i miss the flop i feel like i have to make a bet at it: first to act needs to show strength. again, i am hoping i am getting a chance to show some strength with some sort of hand/draw.

sometimes that re-raise is stuck in the other player's mind. now here i am in first to act and i lead out again with maybe a 1/2 to 3/4 pot bet. i am certainly hoping to make the other player think, "this guy has got a huge PP and all i got is QQ."

and here was the crux of my gripe. even if i have bought in for the max (100xBB) i am likely pretty short stacked at this point. the difference between 3/4 pot bet and all-in is sometimes pretty neglible. even an all-in might get called, b/c my opponent is now pot committed - we've created a monster pot where draws hitting are almost worth chasing!

when playing live $6/$6 NLHE10H i don't feel this way. why? well, generally after about 30 min of play, the table big stack will now have more than the usual 100xBB buy-in; and at the club i play at, you can buy to the table max! of course, you can also buy-in for 200xBB off the bat.

so, all this said: what the hell do i know? not much. almost two years into both live and online play and all i feel i have really cultivated are the basic poker skills that most all develop and a deeper blatant disregard for the value of money. outside of that, i am Moses wandering in the wilderness. my god, i hope it doesn't take 40 years to find the promise land (aside: bad analogy b/c poor Moses didn't even get to enter that damn promised land once they found it. ugh, let's doubly hope that ain't me.)

if you haven't already, i suggest reading DoubleAs and The Cards Speak. search the Cards Speak archives (Hank has a job that keeps him from blog-loving us i think,) and hit Doubles on a daily basis. those guys have some knowledge....certainly more than i do!

good luck and good flops to ya!

bcd said @ 05/23/2006 09:30 AM CST

Wow, thanks for such a detailed reply. I agree that stack sizes play a big part here. I'm not sure if I could nut up and get it all in with AQ pre-flop unless the PT stats indicated this guy was a total moron. That's a hole in my game, though - I usually don't push with a slight margin. I need a big margin.

So let's say you decide to smooth call his raise and the flop is pretty favorable for your AQs - pairs your queen and gives you a backdoor flush draw. How much strength are you showing? I'd say a 3/4 pot bet basically makes you pot committed, so is it just a matter of you leading out because that gives you fold equity?

Thanks for the two reading recommendations, too! I knew of Double A's but have never read Cards Speak.

Tom said @ 05/23/2006 11:01 AM CST

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